By Jo

PART EIGHT: In the Wake of Himself

Robin stood in the doorway, hands on his hips, watching as seven construction workers in

yellow hardhats picked up the chickenmobile and began carrying it down the street. When

they turned into a butcher shop with it, he knew beyond all doubt they intended to make a

Pittsburgh sandwich from it. Big as it was, he figured they might get three, maybe four,

sandwiches out of it.


Sighing, he turned to Meggie. "Chicken's gone and I never got to drive it."  He cast a sideways

glance at Brennan, who was deep in conversation with a head of lettuce.



"Robin," Meggie said, letting her shredded peach-colored veil trail provocatively over his

wrist, "do you, um, know how to drive?"


"Drive? Is it not the same as riding a horse?"


When an odd expression crossed her lovely face, he asked, "Are you saying the chicken was

not yet broken? It was still untamed fowl?"



Listening to the sounds emanating from the butcher shop, Meggie said, "I think it's probably We may well be forced to...."


"Where's my %$#@# CHICKEN??" Himself growled, stepping past them onto the sidewalk.


Chewing her lip, Meggie ventured, "I imagine it's being coated with mayonnaise even as we

speak, Himself."



"Mayon...?" His eyes narrowed severely. He'd forgotten to post a chicken guard. He was in

Pittsburgh. He needed to remember such things.



"What time of day is it?" he asked Robin.


"I have no idea, Himself. I'd have to go back and read chapter one, or maybe chapter four

to know that."


Himself knew he couldn't ask such a sacrifice of anyone. "It's lunch time," he announced,

making a command decision. His chicken was being mayonnaised. Lunchtime was very likely.

It was why in Pittsburgh the railroad tracks were glued to the ground. Nothing here was

safe at lunchtime.


Ed narrowed his eyes. He didn't really like it when Himself decided by fiat what time of

day it was. No one should have that much power. Well, unless it were he himself and not

Himself himself.


"Come!" Himself called to his people. "The epi's afoot."


It was, of course, actually the plot that was afoot, but without a plot the result was that the

cast would have to be what walked.


"We're walking?" complained Alex. "Isn't there a bus we could take?"



Bud, feeling a little queasy from how close he'd come to almost eating something in Pittsburgh,

was in no mood for Alex to speak of bus transport. "No bus," he grated, "especially no bus with

you around."


"It wasn't my fault there was a bomb under the bus," Alex pointed out righteously. "You've

got to get past that epi."


Sid smiled and examined a fingernail.


"Where are we walking?" Zack asked.


"Um, well...good question," Himself sighed. He looked at Brennon. "Any place you need to

be right now?"


"I certainly do not need to be at the prison since I have no epi wife to break out. Why don't

we go...."


But before he could finish his sentence, he was interrupted by the roar of a motorcycle.



Himself watched the furry rodent ride brazenly down Smallman Street, heading for the

heart of the city.


"That way," he said, his voice firm. "We go that way."



"After the squirrel?" Brennan was shocked. "Why, Himself, why would you wish such a

thing?"  Brennan was a Pittsburgher. He knew better.



"Because that's what this plot is all about...squirrels."


Joimus quietly smiled to herself. Was she the only one who kept in constant touch with the

undeniable fact that there was no plot? She looked at Himself with something akin to fond

pity on her face. Poor Himself. How he clung to the notion of plots. She sighed. Well, one day,

with her help, he'd get past that.


"What if it's leading us into a trap?" Biebe wondered aloud.


Joimus leaned over, whispering quietly in Biebe's ear. "You're not thinking big enough, John.

Remember where you are. Think of what squirrels here might do."


Instantly his thoughts enlarged considerably.



"Much better," Joimus nodded approvingly. "You're getting the hang of it."


"Did...did someone say something about...hanging?" Cort gulped.



"It's all right, my darling, dusty one," Shannon soothed, kissing around his neck.


"'re sure?" He looked at Joimus, trembling slightly. She merely smiled at him, one

of those horrid Joimus smiles that could be hiding any sort of monstrosity behind it.


Shannon, busily kissing his Adam's apple, could see over his shoulder. She put both hands on

his shoulders, backing toward the door to get him out of the restaurant before he might notice

the sudden noose that had dropped just behind him.



"She's good," Joimus whispered to Atonia, who got a maternal smile on her face, which lasted

only until she saw Joimus' eye come to rest on Max.


"You...wouldn't!" she gasped.


"I wouldn't what? I was merely looking at the man." 


"Please don't."


"Don't look? Whyever not?"


"You know why."


"He's merely folded a bill into the shape of a squirrel. He's been lucky."  So far, she added

silently. But now, if there had been a plot, it would've been afoot. Obviously it was time to

leave the Strip District and head into town.


Himself was standing in the street, studying a large white arrow that the tires of the motorcycle

had laid down. "That way," he said, great positivity in his voice.



"Don't you think that's a bit obvious, Himself?" Alex asked. "Even to you."


"What do you mean, Ross, 'even to me'?" Himself had one eye greatly more enlarged than

the other. He was good at that.


"I, um, just meant that, um, well, should we really do what a squirrel patently wants us to do?"


"If the plot calls for it, yes."



Joimus sighed loudly and in response Himself sucked in a great breath. Without a look in her

direction, he headed off down the sidewalk, his pack following in his wake. Actually, that

should more accurately be a school or even a pod since the word 'wake' was utilized and packs

seldom swam but more likely hunted in the moonlight and as Himself had decided it was lunchtime, there was really very little current moonlight so when he headed off down the

sidewalk, his pod followed in his wake. Come night time that could change, especially if someone

were to turn into a werewolf or some such and then there could be hunting in the moonlight but

no wakes...probably.


As she walked, Joimus studied Max, wondering what sort of werewolf he might make. Biebe

had once been a wererabbit, as had Jack, so they were likely exempt from future wereing,

though not entirely necessarily and Joimus had never actually promised Bridgid she'd never

fold the Captain again and put him in a FedEx box again, now had she? If one has no idea

what that means, one must go back, one must, and read A New Jeopardy.


After a number of blocks Joimus said her left ankle was tired and Atonia said her right

ankle was tired and as everyone knew broken cast members needed to be coddled from

time to time, they began to look for a park bench. The fact that there were no real parks

in this area of the city was not a hindrance as, of course, when a park bench was needed,

a park bench appeared. Alas it was somewhat occupied.



As was the next...



...and the next...



...and even the next.



Joimus, however, having lived in DC from 1970 to 1974 was in no mood to let Nixon and

Checkers keep her from a needed seat. Despite the fact she'd left DC four weeks before

the man's last helicopter flight out of the city and had no real idea until this very moment

he'd followed her to Pittsburgh, she pushed him off the end of the bench and began a

conversation with Checkers, whom she allowed to remain seated.


"Are you quite through being seated?" Himself asked. A new arrow curved to the left and

he was eager to follow it as the plot demanded of him.



"It's all a ruse, Himself," Joimus sighed.


"And how would you know that?" he retorted, raising his chin defiantly to keep from showing

he was actually somewhat nervous as to her answer.


"Look at the next occupied park bench, Himself."



Warily, Himself turned his head to look at the indicated bench. The squirrel he'd been

following was there, its motorcycle nowhere in sight. And the beast was eating the last of

the chickenmobile just to taunt him!


"Aieeee!" he cried, plucking an apple off a nearby apple tree, ready to cast it at the offensive

venial vertebrate.



"Aieeee!!!!!" he cried again, much more loudly. He'd once more forgotten he was in Pittsburgh,

had not checked to ascertain the variety of apple tree from which he plucked the apple he held

in his starting to bleed hand. It was, alas, the fruit of the infamous Pittsburgh Jaguar Apple

and the upper fangs were sunk deeply into his thumb.



"Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!" Joimus said empathetically.


By the time Himself had removed the fangs and stomped on the apple, the squirrel had disappeared from the now-unoccupied bench it had so recently occupied.



"Here, Himself." Joimus reached into a pocket and handed him a BaconCoke, knowing

he needed to cool off.


"Coke...with BACON?"


"It's diet. That mitigates a good 1% of the bacon."


He narrowed his eyes at her...again. "You realize I'm in the midst of an extremely dreadly

dangerous plot here and give me...cholesterol?"


"No plot, Himself. Can't be dreadly. Look at your cast. What are we doing? A walk in the

park, is it not? A walk in the pa...."


It was then, then when only the first two letters of the four-lettered word beginning with a

'p' had been pronounced that....